Why sharks matter

David Shiffman AKA WhySharksMatter is one of the crew of awesome bloggers at Southern Fried Science.  He has made a slew of posts about shark conservation this year, particularly about legislation to control or ban shark fishing and shark fin trading. He even has a shark movie and lesson plan called Four things everyone needs to know about sharks:

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PP2kLGGGc8c&[/youtube]

And check out David’s post on Shark Conservation: The problem, the goal, and how to get there:

While few sharks are targeted for their flesh, which is considered unpalatable except for a few species, most species are targeted for their fins. The fins, which have absolutely no meat, flavor, or nutritional value whatsoever, are made into an Asian delicacy called shark fin soup. They provide only texture to the spiced chicken broth. While it is impossible to know exactly how many sharks are killed in this global, largely unregulated fishery, the best scientific estimates we have say that the number is as high as 73 million each year.

Being targeted isn’t the only thing problem facing sharks-bycatch is another major threat to many shark species. Millions of sharks each year are killed by fishing gear simply because they are swimming near what fishermen are trying to catch- the ultimate example of  being in the wrong place at the wrong time. Though few fisheries are blameless from a bycatch perspective, particular culprits include the shrimp trawling fishery, the tuna purse seine fishery, and the billfish longline fishery.

Since sharks serve as apex predators in most marine ecosystems, their declines pose major troubles both to the environment and to the countless humans who depend on that environment for food and to make a living.

The problem is a major one, and we need to solve it.

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